Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The true meaning of "home"

Submitted by first-time EARS responder Dawn Frary of Iowa City

Wednesday began bright and early, as most mornings do, and after organizing ourselves the night before, most of us EARS volunteers were on dog-walking duty at 8 a.m. Volunteers from the community continued to show up today and lend a hand wherever they were needed -- whether that was walking dogs, cleaning cages, or escorting people who came to visit or pick up their pets.

The morning was rather quiet after the dog-walking was over, so most EARS volunteers pitched in and helped out where they could -- animal intake, various cleaning duties, escorting visitors. I helped one of my fellow EARS volunteers/photographers wrangle dogs for "mug shots," which was fun because it allowed me to interact with dogs I hadn't gotten to spend much time with before. Most of them are thankful for and accepting of attention because they are incredibly stressed out and frightened by both their experience and being away from their families. Knowing that a dog was able to relax and have fun for even just a few minutes because of me makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Various community organizations showed up to donate food just like they did yesterday, and people from the community continued to show up with donations of all kinds. Several eager volunteers showed up at the dog facility to help walk dogs this afternoon, which is actually a bigger job than some people might realize so we were very happy to have all the help we could get. Most of my day was spent talking with and photographing people who had been reunited with their pets -- getting their story of the evacuation, the rescue, and, unfortunately, the destruction.

Even though several peoples' homes were not in a condition to which they could return right away, I could see in their eyes that they were holding the most important part of their home in their arms.

Photos courtesy Dawn Frary and Shari Neal.

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